Sunoj D was born in Pallipuram, Kerala, in 1979. He moved to Bangalore to study painting at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat and graduated in 2003. He obtained a master’s degree in print-making from Bangalore University in 2006.
Much of Sunoj’s early work explores the dynamic between individual and group identity in the socio-political setting of his native Kerala.
His recent work is inspired by his move from a village to a city, from a house surrounded by paddy fields to ultimately an apartment. Broadly, this work examines the changing quality of man’s relationship with nature, while acknowledging the abiding connection between the two. The encroachment of the urban on the rural and agrarian is noticed, but not necessarily lamented. Instead, attention is drawn to the inexorability of nature – how it underlies human life and coexists with it. This coexistence may be utilitarian: nature as agriculture or landscaping or trees planted and used in aid of various human endeavours. But this purposing of nature does not detract from its emotional value to us.
Of particular concern to Sunoj is the alienation of man from land and cultivation. In his own case, he describes this as ‘loss of farmerness’. In response, he conceives urban buildings whose balconies and terraces are lush with paddy. He also extends to cultivation the language of convenience and compactness used in modern interior design. The result is modular agriculture for the urban interior: crops grow on ledges, in shelves, trays and bottles; they can be slid around or wheeled about. The farmer’s constant companions — the earth, the wind, the sun — become indoor contraptions that can be turned on and off as required. Sunoj’s work playfully reimages the phrase ‘urban jungle’ and reminds us of what we built upon, and what we are missing.